Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Over a month on Palawan

Mission experiences

Last week was our first transfer week which was a new experience for Elder and Sister Wolcott. For those not familiar with LDS missions, every six weeks new missionaries come to the mission, missionaries go home and for various reasons missionaries are moved to different companions. This is a complex logistical feat for the mission president, in our case President Ostler, as he considers needs, potential new trainers, personalities, work ethic and so forth, then seeks inspiration to put the right missionary in the right spot. Companionships may last one transfer or several but in any case when the word comes that you or your companion is leaving there is a period of sorrow for it is unlikely you will see each other again. These elders and sisters develop strong bonds because they are in the trenches together in difficult circumstances. It was an interesting experience to see these companionships say goodbye as we came to pick up the departing missionary.

Saying Goodbye on Transfer day
Some are going home, some are moving to another area, but it is goodbye.  This is tempered somewhat by the expectation that in a few hours the missionary will get a new companion and will develop a new relationship. It is overall a growing experience for these extraordinary elders and sisters.

The children of the Puerto Princesa Branch 2, gave their Sacrament Meeting Presentation last Sunday.  It was such a special treat.  Children are children where ever you may be.  It was fun to see all of the girls with white bows in their hair, singing like angels (Filipinos have beautiful voices).  We loved watching them.  They did an incredible job. As a child Sister Wolcott remembers singing short songs about the love Jesus has for us, but read the words of the song they sang.

"I Know That My Savior Loves Me." 
A long time ago in a beautiful place, Children were gathered around Jesus.
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love, each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones, I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on His knee, Yet, Jesus is real to me.
Now I am here in a beautiful place, Learning the teachings of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way. Lighting my path every day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior's love, I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way, Home to my Father above.
I know He lives! I will follow faithfully, My Heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me. I know that my Savior loves me.

The children loved singing this song and they sang it with all their hearts.  It was a joy to watch them.

We went went to the "fish farm" again today with sister missionaries to meet an extraordinary family. They manage a fish farm about 60 Km North of Puerto Princesa. The sister teaches seminary in their little community every day and this opens the door to many missionary opportunities. When we go there with the sisters assigned to the area they always have one or two families for us to visit and teach. Not only that, they usually have lunch for us. Today it was siopao (Chinese dumplings), Dumplings filled with seasoned chicken, it was extraordinary. While there the brother opened up two green coconuts, poured the water into a pitcher, then scooped the soft coconut meat into the drink, nothing else added. This was our first taste of buko, nothing in the store will ever match what we drank today.

Lunch at the fish farm

Life in the Philippines

There is a local mall called Robinson's, as a public service they offer voter registration for the 2016 elections when they are open from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM, Voter registration closes this Friday so there is some urgency to get registered. As we left town at 8:00 this morning we drove past a line of people that was at least a kilometer long. As we talked to those who have registered one needs to be in line by 2:00 AM to get registered. This evening at 8:00 there were still about 50 people in line outside of the store, hoping to get registered today. Memories of this will help me when I have to wait an hour some day at a government office!

To our engineering friends. In an upcoming post we will share some amazing engineering and construction photo's.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Another Week in Paradise

Time goes screaming past, it is unbelievable. Since our last post on our blog we have experienced so many new and wonderful things.  We were able to have our Mission President and his family here for a few days.  President and Sister Ostler are amazing and they have the greatest spirit about them.  We were able to participate in the District Conference here in Puerto Princesea where Elder Wolcott was sustained as Executive Secretary for the Philippines Manila Mission.  It was incredible to be at District Conference to see the devotion and excitement of the members of the church and they love to learn and grow. They participate with their all their hearts.

Filipino children in Tay Tay
 The greatest resource that Philippine has is their people. The people are so kind, so happy, so inviting and loving.  The more we get to know the people the more excited we are that we get to be here to experience the “love of others” in the Philippines.

We had a zone activity on Monday and watched a movie called “17 Miracles", it is very inspirational.  Some of the missionaries are descendants from individuals that were talked about in the movie.  The movie helped the missionaries understand that everyone can do difficult things and they can still go onward to do their very best.  When life gets tough it is still important to go onward and upward.
This is the Puerto Princesa Zone, It's exciting to work with these great Elders and Sisters.
Each of them have amazing stories!

This past weekend we were able to watch the General Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, UT the weekend before.  We are a day ahead here in the Philippines so we watch conference a week late. It was exciting to hear the new apostles talk.  We really liked the talk by Brother Stanfill about the Hiawatha Trail.  The trail is in part of the forest that Elder Wolcott helped manage when we were in St. Maries, Idaho.  We have been to the tunnels and trestles in that area more than once, it is a beautiful area to bike in.  The trail goes for over 70 miles. 

This past weekend we went to TayTay (pronounced TieTie) to watch conference with the members there and to see if we could help out the missionaries in that area.  Here are some pictures of some of the things were saw.  It is a beautiful place with a lot of history.
The Northern sky at Tay Tay
close to Sunset on Saturday.
This is the Sulu Sea

Sunrise on Monday at Tay Tay near the harbor entrance.
A boy from the fishing village collecting clams from the harbor
Fort Santa Isabel constructed by Spain in 1667

Since Monday was our P-Day we used some time to go exploring.  We went to El Nido which is a resort area on the beach.  They have many tours that tourist go on including island hopping. We went to get a feel for what was there so maybe when some people come to visit we can go on a tour. 
Tour boats in El Nido Monday Morning. This is the South China Sea.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Now We Are On our Own

On Saturday morning the 26th we took President and Sister Hiatt to the airport for their flight to Manila where they stayed until Monday, then flew home to Idaho. The week we spent together was filled with training, travel, visits and sharing over twenty years of memories serving together in the Sandpoint Idaho Stake of Zion.  It was a blessing for us to have such great trainers who worked hard to fill our minds with all the necessary things we would need to know for the future. We will be eternally grateful for all their help.  It was fun, spiritual and exciting.

Some of the highlights of last week:

On Sunday after a good day of meeting members in the four local branches we went to Family Home Evening at the Duking family. The evening was filled with family time, a great lesson from the Old Testament and wonderful food. Sister Duking is the District Relief Society President and is a stalwart leader in the area.

Sister Wolcott feeding the carabao
on her morning walk
Within our walled community there is a domestic Carabao. He is always eager to see us everyday because we bring our fruit scraps to him. (The mango's and banana's here are extraordinary)

Filipino Cowboy along the road to Narra
On Monday we drove to Narra which is about 90 Kilometers Southwest of Puerto Princessa, there we met Elder and Sister Wirthlin and took care of some mission business. We all took a short side trip to Estralla Falls, it a beautiful spot to visit.

Elder and Sister Wirthlin,
Elder and Sister Wolcott,
Elder and Sister Hiatt

Tuesday was a special family activity at the Malvar chapel with couples from throughout the district invited. Sister Wolcott and I were invited to answer questions about family relations, it was an interesting hour or so! The questions varied from how to manage finances to how should a husband conduct himself.

On Wednesday we had dinner with the Maraneta family, it was a special time as we were treated with Filipino hospitality. They are a middle class family with a great home, as is a frequent custom they had dinner place settings for their guests and waited until we had eaten before they had dinner.

Thursday evening we visited with the Santos family and heard his incredible story of survival, baptism and bringing his family from poverty and a Nipa Hut to a managerial position and a comfortable situation. One can escape the crushing poverty, but many do not. Sister Santos can prepare a meal for a large group, take it to the church and serve it hot, with a two burner gas stove and a small outside charcoal BBQ, it is amazing.

Sister Hiatt signing the Conch at Tay Tay
On Friday we drove about 90 Km NW to Roxas and then another 90 Km to Tay Tay, in Tay Tay President and Sister Hiatt signed the conch alongside Elder Durfee's name. Elder Durfee was from Sandpoint, Idaho Stake and served part of his mission in Tay Tay.

Of interest this past week was a national celebration of the family in the Philippines, it was a great opportunity for conversation as the church participated in the events and had several activities including showing the movie Meet The Mormons and other family activities.

Our resident gecko is telling us it's bedtime! I've seen him a couple of times, Sister Wolcott hasn't looked for him...